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The Highlander and the Witch

Chapter Text

https://youtu.be/xGEESYfZt5A

They stood together on the hill looking over Fraser’s ridge. The man’s black hair had thinned with age, while hers had turned from a dark brown to gray.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" The woman asked, grinning in her lover’s direction. "Claire, Jamie, and Angus will all have our hides."
Her husband made a Scottish noise in his throat.
"Aye," he grunted, leading her over some loose rocks in their path. "It’ll be worth it, a nice way to celebrate our anniversary, ye ken?"
"Sixty years," the woman said with a grin.
"Aye, sixty years of misery and putting up wi’ yer naggin." He adopted a high-pitched tone. "Rupert, make me my breakfast, Rupert, rub my back, Rupert, fetch me some coffee!"
"Don’t make me get my wand out," the woman threatened with a grin.
"Och, I’m so scared," Rupert mocked. "What are ye going to do, turn me into a rabbit for yer amusement?"
"I just might," the woman replied.
"Yer a feisty wee witch, and I love ye for it," said Rupert fondly.
"Yeah, we were both nearly killed because of that," Alice said with a sigh. "I should have hidden my Lakota heritage more, we could have been more discreet with your lessons, and the fact you wanted to share in my culture.
The two of us nearly payed the price for that."
"Nay," Rupert replied, kissing her. "I was so eager to be a part of yer world, that I wasna discreet enough myself. I was so in love wi’ ye I wanted to experience everything, I still am. I dinna want to hear ye talking about hiding your heritage again, ye should be proud of where ye came from, and the traditions that ye hold." They turned as the sound of pounding footsteps came up behind them.
"Rupert and Alice McKenzie, what the bloody hell do you think your doing? You are both scarcely out of your beds due to pneumonia, and here you are, out in the freezing cold and for what if I may ask?"
"Christ woman, keep yer hair in, we’re coming," said Rupert.
"You had better be, Angus and Jamie were about to send out a search party for you two." Rupert and Alice started down the hill, as they remembered where it all began, on a fairy hill in Scotland.

Chapter Text

Rupert and Alice entered the large house, Claire continuing to scold all the while. She ushered them back to their bed.

“I have porridge for you both, and I strongly suggest you eat your breakfast.”

“Yer wife seems to grow more demanding as she ages,” Rupert said to Jamie.

“Aye, and with good reason, you and Alice have only just recovered.” Rupert shook his head as Claire reentered the living room with two bowls of porridge on a breakfast tray, which she placed on their laps.
They quickly did as she asked, eating the hot porridge, and drinking the cold milk that she placed in front of them.

“Today is your anniversary is it not?” Jamie asked. Rupert nodded, a soft smile on his face.

“Aye, that is right,” he replied.

“Can you tell us your story?” Claire asked. “About how you met and fell in love? I wasn’t there or privy to all of it.” Alice and Rupert smiled at her.

“It is a long story,” said Alice.

“You have a long recovery,” said Jamie.

“Well, all right then,” said Alice. She took another bite of porridge.

‘Akicita, would you mind starting?” Rupert asked.

“Akicita?” Jamie and Claire asked together, pronouncing the word wrong.

“What on earth does that mean?” Claire asked.

“That is my Lakota name,” Alice replied. “Akicita, which means warrior. The Lakota tribe has a complex naming system, I received this name when I was eighteen. My first name meant dancing maiden, sense I loved to dance.” Rupert grinned at her.

“Ye still do lass,” he whispered. Alice laughed.

“Well, it all started as you know, in the future in the year 2016. I was at a protest of people who wanted the government to stop a project that would poison our water.” Claire gasped, looking quite a poled to Rupert’s eyes.

“That sounds horrible,” said Jamie in disgust. There was more of course, but Alice didn’t want to go into the hole situation, so she cleared her throat and continued.

“It was October, a beautiful fall evening.”

October 15th, 2016.
Standing Rock Reservation.

Alice Cross ran, screams and gun shots filling her ears. The smell of the tear gas was strong in the air, causing her to cough as she stumbled forward, though, it was a bit difficult to run with a cane in her hand, but she did her best.
Sean had insisted that she run, placing himself between her, and the police dogs.

“I will not see you in jail,” he said.

“Isn’t that not my decision to make?” she asked, the tear gas making her nostrils burn. ‘This is my reservation, my people, not yours, you don’t have the right to keep me from protecting what is mine.” Her voice rose to a near shout as she glared in her friend’s direction.
What right did he have? She had been in the second wizarding war, and had experienced far worse than a fucking jail cell. Sean placed a hand on her arm.

“Alice, I understand what you went through in your war, and I know that you are perfectly capable of taking care of yourself, but this is bad, you could go to jail, or worse get killed or injured. Please, I won’t see you get hurt over this, please, go home, just this once, until this madness dies down a bit. There are people who are hurt, and I won’t see that happen to you. Please.”

“What if it doesn’t die down Sean? This is my land, my tribe, it is my duty to protect the water, and sovernty, the government broke treaties Sean.”

“Look, can you just wait this one night?” Sean asked. “Just for tonight, the police are everywhere, just waiting to arrest people. Just for tonight, can you wait it out until things are less insane? Then I will never stop you again, I just don’t want you to die or get anybody party blown off by those damn rubber bullets.” Alice had to give in to that, Sean was not the type of person to beg, his pride wouldn’t let him.

“Oh, all right, but you owe me some rocky road ice cream.”

“Yeah, I’ll have some for you next time I see you, now get the hell out of here.” Alice did as she was told, running and stumbling over loose gravel, and fighting through the panicking crowd of people.
Alice let out a scream as a gun went off right next to her. She ducked just in time, but could still feel the wind of the bullet as he just missed her head.
She screamed once more as a hand landed on her shoulder.

“Shhh, it is just me,” said Sean, gasping for breath. “I just managed to get away, barely.” He grabbed her hand, and pulled her towards the parking lot. “Come on, we can go and get some ice cream, and watch a movie until things calm down a wee bit.” Alice couldn’t fight her friend’s logic, so she allowed herself to be pulled along, the sounds of screams, and orders from police growing farther away as they ran.

“Let’s watch Titanic,” said Alice.

“Oh God, not that piece of shite movie,” Sean groaned. “That movie has so many inaccuracies, it isn’t even funny, why, it is a bad as fucking Braveheart.”

“Oh, I know it is bad,” said Alice.

“Well, why do you want to watch it then?” Sean asked in exasperation.

“Because, if I can’t trash the fucking United Sates government, I can at least trash a shitty movie without risk of getting thrown in jail.”

“Awe, if it isn’t Shalice,” said a sugary sweet voice from behind them.

“Piss off Linda, and grow the fuck up, you are twenty-one, not fifteen anymore.”

“You are so cute when your mad, the girls in my dorm are talking nonstop about you and your girlfriend.”

“Oh, shut up and go away,” snapped Alice. “For the final time, we are not dating, we are friends, or are you stupid people under the delusion that guys and girls cannot be friends because oh no, we can’t have that, or the entire universe would explode, and cats would turn into dogs, while pigs fly. Come on Sean, let’s go and get that ice cream Sean, I can’t believe that is your sister. Were you adopted?”

“I pretend that I am,” Sean replied with a sigh.

“Yeah, go back to your stupid Tipi, and smoke your peace pipe.” Alice was about to make a sharp reply when Linda began dancing around them, with a terrible attempt at native American singing. “You guys need to get with the times, I mean fires and medicine men, this is the 21st century, I mean, do you really believe a few dances and mumbled words will magickly heal someone, or your prayers to the magic creator will fix—”

“Alice, No!” Sean yelled as Alice sprinted at the girl, shaking with barely controlled rage.

“Do you dare!” she roared, getting right into Linda’s face. “Do you dare mock the sacred traditions of my people that go back thousands of years? You little bitch, you have no idea what you’re talking about.
Here are some things you should know to keep you from insulting another one of my people. Not all tribes lived in TPS, or smoked piece pipes. My tribe did, but there are others like the Cherokee who dwelled in cabins. Now, get the hell away from me and go back to where you are trying to go to.””
Alice was resisting the urge to take out her wand and curse the ignorant girl. She whirled away, and ran down the path that lead to the parking lot, Sean running after her, the tap of her cane the only sound part from their footsteps and the wind.
Sean finally caught up to her at the entrance of the lot and stopped, catching his breath.

“My God, you are a fast runner,” he panted. Alice smiled sadly through her tears, not answering him as she leaned against a car.
They got into Sean’s car, and drove to her Father’s home in silence, each lost in their own thoughts.
Her Father was there to greet them.

“Hello Sean, Alice, how was the protest this evening?” He said, getting to his feet.

“I am doing good, the protest didn’t go very well, the police showed up halfway though, threatening to arrest people with their attack dogs and rubber bullets, so I got Alice out of there before she got hurt.”

“Damn them,” said John coldly. “They won’t be happy until our people are completely wiped off the face of Mother Earth, will they? It wasn’t enough that my people were forced to live in concentration camps. Oh, did I say concentration camp, I meant reservation.” John sighed. “There is hot coco on the stove if either of you want any, I need to harvest some herbs for the inipi ceremony coming up this week.”

“What has gotten into him?” Sean asked. “I mean, that was a long time ago.” Alice bristled at Sean’s words and annoyed tone.

“There is a lot that you don’t understand Sean, the land isn’t just something that should be parceled out like a pie. It isn’t just the land either, my grandparents were forced to go to boarding schools where their hair was cut, and they were beaten, and forced to watch their mouths out with soap if they spoke their language. There is a lot more I could tell, but it would take more time than I have to explain it, and I don’t know everything myself.”

“I’m sorry for sounding so insensitive and condescending,” Sean replied, pouring himself a cup of coco.

“It’s not your fault,” Alice replied. “Schools don’t exactly have proper classes on native American history.”

“Maybe I will talk to your Dad after dinner,” Sean replied. “If I am to be a high school history teacher, I want to teach the truth about history. “Alice smiled as she flicked her wand, causing several pork chops to zoom towards her. With a flick, they were instantly thawed, and sizzling away in a frying pan.

“No fare,” Sean grumbled as the dishes began to wash themselves. “I have to wash mine by hand. Why can’t I be a wizard?”

“Because you can’t,” Alice replied, working on a broccoli and cheese casserole for the side dish.

Once the meal was done, Alice sent the food outside. It was a pleasant evening, one for eating outdoors.
The three of them sat down to the delicious food, and had chocolate ice cream for dessert.
Sean and her Father volunteered to do the dinner dishes, while Alice finished up an article she was writing for the Daily Prophet.
She had one more paragraph to finish her article about the latest broomstick, and then she would be finished. The wizarding British population needed more news media than the Daily Prophet or the Quibler, she thought with a sigh. I may just have to start my own newspaper, she thought, then I could write about more serious topics.
She wrote down her final sentence, and put down her dictation quill.

“As long as I don’t run into that bitch Rita Sketa at work tomorrow, I will be fine,” she said.

“Is that so-called journalist still working for the Daily Prophet?” her Dad asked, sitting down across from her. “I still remember reading those stupid articles about your friends Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, I through the paper into the trash after reading it.”

“Yeah, unfortunately, she still is,” replied Alice. “I’m hoping to make enough to start my own newspaper, I’m tired of reporting on broomsticks and the like, I want to report on what is really happening out there.”

“You will honey,’ John replied. “Sometimes, you just have to wade through the bullshit in order to get to what you want in life, you just have to remember to hold on and be patient.” Alice laughed.

“Patience and I don’t always go together,” she replied.

“You take after your Mother in that department, she was quite impatient at times, especially when she was younger. I too had to learn how to be patient, especially learning how to be a single parent after she died.”

“That is true,” Alice replied. “Well Dad, I need to get going home, Sean and I are going to watch a movie together and have ice cream. Are Grandma and Grandpa coming over tomorrow?”

“Yes, they are,” said John. “I will have them drop by to say hi, shall I?”

“Yeah, tell them I will make some fried chicken for them.”

“Your Grand Mother in particular will love that,” John replied. Alice got to her feet, and gave her Father a hug, not knowing it would be the last time she would see him.

“Are you ready to go and watch that movie?” asked Sean, closing the door behind him.

“Yeah, let’s go, I am ready for that ice cream.” Alice replied.

It was a wonderful evening watching Titanic while eating ice cream while they trashed the love story between Jack and Rose.

“My God, they barely know each other and they are already confessing their undying love for one another,” said Sean as Jack talked about the fire that he loved about Rose.
Alice laughed.

“What do you expect from a Gary Stew and a Mary Sue like those two?” All too soon the movie was over, and Sean had to leave for home to study for final exams.

“But that’s two months away,” said Alice, feigning surprise. Sean chuckled.

“Yes, it is, that is why I get such a high GPA, I study extra hard, unlike a certain someone that I know.”

“Oh, shut up, Alice said, hitting him with a couch cushion. “I did well enough, I passed my OWLS and NEWTS, didn’t I?”

“What I don’t understand, is why anyone would name exams after an animal.”

“No silly, they stand for O,W,Os, Ordinary Wizarding levels, while N.E.W.Ts stands for nastily exhausting wizarding tests,” Alice replied.

“That last one sounds like torture, whoever came up with that name was a rather straight forward and honest character,” said Sean. Alice grimaced, remembering the panic filled study sessions for her newts.

“I was lucky to pass those damn tests,” Alice replied. “You don’t know how many sleepless nights I had leading up to that week. Of course, it didn’t help that I procrastinated, much to the annoyance of Hermione. Believe me, I have learned a lot sense then.”

“I’m glad. Well, I need to go home and study, I will call you tomorrow, all right?” Alice smiled as she walked him towards the door.

“All right, until tomorrow then.” Alice listened as Sean started up his car, the gravel crunching beneath the tires.
After drinking some tea, Alice decided to go for a walk, it was a beautiful fall evening, and Winter would be coming soon.
Singing a little song, Alice started out, carrying her broomstick, flute, and a basket of apples.
She walked until she reached a running river, and sat down to eat. The apple was good and sweet, perfectly ripe. She decided to make an apple pie for her grandparents tomorrow.
She continued on, enjoying the cool evening and the sounds of the night animals.
She was the only one out at the moment, so she took her time. She soon came upon what felt like a pile of rocks in a circle. She bent down to take a closer look. No, they were stones of some type, her ears soon caught a strange buzzing noise which grew louder as she approached the center of the circle. She said a prayer to Wankan Tanka, and placed her hand on the center stone, hoping the sound was just a figment of her imagination.
The next thing she knew, she was experiencing a sickening sensation of falling, but far worse, it was so sickeningly fast that she thought she was going to lose her dinner.
Luckily for her, the sickening ride was over, and the sound of bird song filled her ears as she slammed into the ground, gasping for breath.
The air felt much warmer than it was before, and the faint shouts of men filled her ears. Shaking all over, she grabbed her wand and broomstick, before setting out.
She could feel dryness in her mouth, so she concentrated, trying to find the sound of a running river or stream through the sound of the wind. She just managed to hear what she was looking for, off to the west, so she headed in that direction, her head pounding. She kept her hand in her wand pocket, and drew closer to the stream.
She stumbled forward towards the welcoming sound, leaned forward, and lapped from the river like a dog, enjoying the ice-cold flavor. She vaguely thought of water purification, but dismissed it for now, she was far too thirsty and her head pounded for her to care at the moment.
Sighing, she decided to sleep here for now, this obviously was not her home, she could feel it in the air, it was far warmer than a fall evening, while the echoes of strange voices filled the air. She would sleep for now, and then assess the situation in the morning, maybe she could get some help in finding where she came from.
She thought about placing anti muggle protection, but she didn’t want to risk anyone seeing. Sighing, she stretched out, trying to get comfortable on the hard ground as her head continued to pound. She closed her eyes, trying to block out all the noise and sleep.

“So, you came through the stones a day before I did,” said Claire. Alice nodded.

“I did,” she said.

“Rupert, can you tell us what happened next?” asked Claire.

“Aye, I can, I was on guard duty, making sure the red coats wouldn’t cause any trouble when I needed a drink of water.”

Rupert McKenzie hummed a song as he walked, scouting the aria for Dougal. Everything seemed peaceful at the moment, but he knew all too well that the peace could change in an instant. He was looking forward to going home for some good food and drink, as well as a fine lass.
He stopped at the top of a hill, eyes scanning for some water to quench his thirst. He spotted a river in the distance, and made his way towards it. He stopped about twenty paces away, spotting a small huddled figure in the long grass. Placing his hand on his dirk in case of an enemy, he slowly crept forward, eyes lingering on the figure. It was a lass he saw, with long brown hair, and equally brown skin. He wondered where she came from, not from around these parts, he was certain of that fact. His gaze moved to her neck where a simple necklace of wooden beads lay at her bonnie throat.
A strange looking broom lay beside her. Well, the broom itself was not strange, but the fact it was with her was, it should be in her house, along with the lass. He picked up a beautifully carved flute, and gazed at the plant and animals that were carved in the wood. Whoever made this had excellent skill. With one final gaze, he put the flute in his pocket. It stuck out a bit, and he would have to be careful how he walked, so it wouldn’t fall out. Shaking his head, he decided to bring her towards the cottage, she was clearly alone, with no one else with her.
He hesitated a moment, but the thought of red coats and their scouts sealed the deal, he didn’t want her meeting with Black Jack Randal, that would spell disaster, and she was an unarmed woman, surrounded on all sides by danger.
Being as gentle as he could, he scooped her up, along with her broom stick, and ran with her towards the cottage where the men were camped. Dougal wanted to leave for Castle Leoch tomorrow evening, so they needed a good long sleep for the journey ahead.
She stirred slightly, mumbling in an unknown language in her sleep before breathing deeply once more. Shaking his head, he moved on swiftly towards the cottage.
Dougal looked up at them as they entered, his gaze lingering on the woman in his arms, still sleeping deeply.

“Who have you found?” he asked, voice as tense as his body as he glared at her.

“I do not know,” Rupert replied, “I found her near a river, not too far from hear, about a mile away.”

“Aye, wake her up, so I can question her,” said Dougal.
Rupert shook her awake. She opened her eyes with a groan. she mumbled in that strange unknown language. It sounded quite pretty to Rupert, and he secretly hoped to hear more.

“Do you speak English?” Dougal barked. The woman scowled at him.

“I do,” she replied in clipped tones. “Who are you, and where am I?”

“I believe I will be asking the questions around here woman,” Dougal growled. “Now, tell us your name and where you are from.” The question was given as a statement.

“Oh, I thought you already decided my name was Woman,” she replied, eyes flashing at him as anger appeared on her face. “Did your Mother ever teach you manners? I suppose not by the tone you spoke to me in.” Rupert could see that she was afraid as well as angry, but was choosing to let her anger show at the moment.
Dougal grabbed her wrist in a firm grip.

“Now lass, when I ask you a question, you answer,” he barked in his most dangerous tone. Rupert could see the other men watching this exchange with interest. She spat something in her own language before ripping her arm from his hold.
Dougal didn’t understand a word, but he seemed to get the meaning as his face grew red with rage. Before he could speak however, she beat him to it.

“I am Alice Cross. Now, who the hell are—”

“Where do you come from?” Dougal interrupted.

“America, can’t you not tell by my accent?” Alice asked with a roll of the eyes.

“Ye mean the Colony’s?” Dougal replied.

“Colonies, whatever you want to call it, it means the same damn thing, now, are you going to let me go so I can find my way back home?”

“Rupert, find the woman some blankets, we will be taking her with us to see my brother, he can try and make sense of her.” He turned to Alice. ‘As for you, you will speak only when spoken to woman, is that clear?”

“Yeah, you can fuck off with that,” Alice growled, still clearly angry with the man. ‘I can speak whenever I want to, I am Lakota, and I will not be silenced by a wasicu!” Rupert had no idea what that final word meant, but he and the other men could tell it was an insult towards them. She spat in the dirt, and turned away from them, shoulders tense and rigid. Rupert went to the back room, and asked the woman for a spare blanket. She quickly gave it over, casting a frightened gaze at the strange woman.
Rupert thanked her, and gave the blanket to Alice. She nodded at him, giving him a small smile of thanks.

“My flute and broom,” she said, voice full of alarm. Rupert silently handed her both objects.
Alice took the flute, and went into a corner, dragging along her broomstick, and blanket.

 

“What is a La-ko-ta?” Dougal asked, pronouncing the strange word slowly so he could get it right.

“I dinna ken,” Rupert replied.

“Well, it is yer job ta find out,” Dougal growled, then he spoke for the hole cottage to hear. “Now lads, get some sleep, we have a long journey ahead of us.”
Rupert nodded along with the others, watching the lass as she sat down, ram rod straight, and listening for everything.

“I wouldna mind grinding her corn,” Angus whispered, giving her a lavish look. “I wouldna mind riding her all night long eh Rupert?” Rupert shook his head at his friend.

“All I ken is that I am tired, I am going to get some sleep Angus, though, she is rather bonnie, I do wonder where she comes from?”

“Perhaps Jamie will ken,” Angus replied, eyes raking her up and down. “He went to Paris for his university remember?” Rupert nodded with a yawn.

“Ye can ask him in the morning, I am going to bed. Good night Angus.” Angus smiled at his friend.

“Good night Rupert.” Rupert laid down as the lass put the flute to her lips, and began to play softly. The tune was beautiful and haunting. Something stirred in his heart as he listened. He could see that she was clearly shaken by tonight’s events, and this was her way of calming down.

“Quit yer pipping and go to sleep,” Dougal barked at her. Alice gave him a cold look as she continued to play, clearly ignoring his order. Something in the man snapped. Rupert know that Dougal was a man who was not used to people disobeying his orders. The men watched as he stalked over, and snatched the instrument from her in mid-play.
There was a crack and crunch of breaking wood under a boot as Dougal broke it. The woman reacted then, letting out a loud cry of grief.

“My Grand Father made that for me!” she screamed, launching herself at Dougal, several men sprang into action, roughly grabbing her, and holding her back from the war chief. She continued to scream, a mixture of English and her unknown language pouring from her mouth between sobs of anger and sadness. The men finally subdued the woman, forcing her back in her corner where she curled up into a tiny ball, sobbing into her arms.
Dougal turned away towards his own corner, and lay down, shutting his eyes. While no one else was looking, Rupert picked up the pieces of broken flute, placing them in his pocket. He would try and fix it for her.
He sat up, listening as she continued to sob, alone in her corner. He pondered her for a bit, how she didn’t look at anybody, and how she felt along her environment. Was she blind? It seemed like she was.
Rupert shook his head as he drifted off to sleep. He knew one thing for sure, things were about to get interesting.

Chapter Text

“Well, it looks like you and Dougal got on the wrong foot, you made quite the impression,” said Claire.

“Either that, or he made the impression,” added Jamie. Alice laughed.

“I think it was both,” she said. The four of them were sitting outside, enjoying the cool fall day, while Angus tended the horses.

“I’m surprised the two of you became friends,” said Claire, taking a sip of apple cider.

“So am I,” said Alice. “Rupert, along with Angus, however, were another matter. Rupert had, and still has, a natural charm, which makes it hard to not like him, while Angus has a strong loyal streak about him. I found that out about both of them the next day.” Akicita grew silent, a faraway look on her face.

“What is it?” Claire asked, noticing the look.

“Nothing,” Akicita replied with a sigh. “I just miss my husband.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Claire. “Your husband is right here.”

“I have two husbands; my Lakota husband is back home.”

“Why dinna ye think ta tell us this before?” Jamie asked. “Does yer first husband ken? Ye ken well it is a sin ta lay with more than one man? God created Adam and Eve, not Eve, and two husbands, I ken yer tribe is different, but I dinna ken they were heathens as well. I suppose that men are allowed to rut with more than one wife too?” Akicita crumpled at Jamie’s lecture. She hunched forward; head bowed as tears sprang to her eyes.
Jamie was one of her friends. She knew that he had some racism against Indians, but she thought that he was working on that front, especially after being named Bear Killer by the Cherokee. The Frasers had been living peacefully with the Cherokee sense then. Was he lying all this time? It seemed so to her.

“You will apologize,” Rupert snarled, getting to his feet. He wasn’t the only one who had spoken these words, everyone turned towards the yard at the second voice.

“ENAPAY,” said Alice in complete shock. Rupert turned to see a fierce looking Lakota elder walking towards them, silent as a shadow. He moved onto the porch, stopping to stand beside him.

“How do you know what we were talking about?” Rupert asked him in Lakota.

“It was Angus,” he explained. “He arranged it so that I could come and surprise you. Warriors are camped with me, they wanted to come as my guard, and celebrate with us. Your friend was quite loud as well.” He clearly disapproved of anyone yelling at his wife. “Now then.” He fixed Jamie with a hateful glare as he continued to speak, his tenor voice turning fierce with rage. Rupert translated for a speechless Jamie and Claire.

“You have no right speaking your poison against my wife and tribe. I was told that I would be welcomed in your home, I have been proven wrong. Takota and Akicita have told me that you were a man of honor, and a dear friend. I find you to be a man with a forked tongue!” Jamie turned to his friend in disbelief.

“Dinna tell me you have become one of them, a part of their tribe, yer a good Catholic man, how could ye turn yer back on yer faith for savagery?” Rupert gave Jamie a look of disgust as he translated for ENAPAY, who looked angrier if that was possible.
Rupert saw Claire take a step back at the look on the elder’s face. Without another word, the two men turned, and made their way to where their wife was seated. Rupert watched as Jamie’s eyes flashed with anger, and he knew that his temper was about to be unleashed at what Enapay had said to him.

“If ye dinna like my ways, ye can leave my land,” he growled at Enapay.

“Go on Enapay, take Akicita to the lodge, I need to have some words with Jamie,” said Rupert as Enapay’s hand went to a war club. The elder nodded reluctantly, and took Akicita’s hand with gentle words that contrasted with his unfriendly gaze at Jamie.
Once they had left, Rupert turned to Jamie.

“First things first,” he began, stepping into Jamie’s space. “This is not your land, this land belongs to the Cherokee,—”

“I signed the paper claiming otherwise and built—”

“Do not interrupt me when I am speaking!” Rupert shouted, drawing himself to his full height.

‘Don’t give me orders in my own home,” Jamie barked.

‘Shut up Jamie!” Claire snapped, glaring at her husband.

“Sassenach, let me deal with this,’ growled Jamie.

“I will not,” replied Claire. “Takota is my friend, so no, I will not stay out of it. Please continue Takota.” Rupert nodded.

“As I was saying, this is their land upon which you are living, the idea that it can be divided like a piece of pie is laughable, the animals do not do so, and neither do the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota. We live in harmony with Mother Earth, the land belongs to all.” He took a drink of water and continued. “Secondly, you are a hypocrite of the highest, lecturing me about family dynamics. As I recall, Claire wrote to us about your second wife Leog heir, and the fact that you didn’t even tell her. You could have done far better than the likes of her, and you could have told Claire about it. That is the difference, the three of us made the decision as a team when we decided to marry, the Lakota actually respects our women, it seems that you dinna respect or trust Claire enough to tell her this important information.
Thirdly, you dinna just hurt Akicita and I with your words, you hurt all three of us. We are not savages and heathens, and it is none of your concern about what I believe in. Finally, if Enapay is not welcome in your home, nor are we. I am disappointed in you Jamie, I thought you knew better, but I see that jealousy is still your best friend. Perhaps I should pay a wee visit to the Cherokee so they can learn what their so-called neighbor thinks of them. Do you realize that it is a high honor when a tribe gives you one of their names? Perhaps you should think on that the next time you want to insult an Indian. “I have spoken.”

“You are a Scot, not a Lakota,” said Jamie. Rupert turned back to him.

“The Lakota adopted me as one of their own, so I became a part of their tribe. I am both Sioux and Scot” With that, Rupert marched towards the small circle of tipis that were set up not too far from the house. He easily found their lodge and entered. Akicita and Enapay were fast asleep, wrapped around one another under the buffalo hide blanket. He was dismayed to find tear tracks on their cheeks.
Rupert knew quite well that they felt things deeply, once you entered their hearts, you never left. They loved one another and their tribe fiercely, you hurt one, you hurt the other. He leaned down, watching them sleep for a second, their chests rising and falling in tandem, their hair mingling together on the pillow they shared. He bent down, kissing her on the lips, and him on the brow before burrowing under the blanket to the right of his wife, a nap sounded like heaven at the moment. He smiled as he drifted off.
He had his wife and brother beside him, what more could a man want?

They woke up an hour or so later at the smell of food and a knock at the door.

“Come in,” Rupert called. Claire entered, carrying a large picnic basket.

“I made a celebration dinner for the three of you,” she said. “May I join you? I want to get to know this fine gentleman, and hear more of your story.”

“Aye, come on in,” Rupert replied.

“This is homey,” she said as they sat up and made room for her. Alice flicked her wand at the firepit, causing a roaring fire to come to life, warming the3 tipi.
Claire opened the basket, revealing a large amount of chicken and roasted potatoes, along with a bottle of wine which she poured into four glasses.

“Happy anniversary you three,” she said, toasting to them. Enapay smiled at her. He looked far friendlier than the last time she saw him. Claire watched as Alice filled her plate, the men followed suet after making sure she had plenty. She and Enapay both laughed as Rupert snuck her an extra potato.

“He has always made sure I had plenty of food, even at the beginning he did this,” Akicita said, taking a bite of chicken. “I noticed this the very morning after I came through the stones.”

 

“Lass, it’s time to wake up, I have breakfast for ye.” Alice slowly opened her eyes at the voice. For a second, she couldn’t remember where she was. She sat up, wincing at the hard floor under her back, it was nothing like sleeping outside. Why wasn’t she in her bed at home? The memories came rushing back at the sound of men murmuring to one another in the corner, the strange stones, the sickening sensation of falling, and the hazy recollection of being taken to this cottage, and the shouting match with the man Dougal. She listened hard for any cars or trucks outside, but none were to be heard. Did she fall through time? It seemed plausible, none of these men ever mentioned cell phones or any modern technology, and they all sounded like they were from Scotland, which is far from America, plus, Dougal called America the Colonies, and had no idea what she had spoken of last night during her questioning. It all made sense put together like that.
Fighting back fear and panic, she yawned and got to her feet, ready for a good meal. The man, Rupert was his name, guided her to a table, where a piping bowl of porridge was waiting for her. It was hot and thick with a stream of milk, just the way she liked it, though, it wasn’t as sweet as she kept it.
Well, the only thing missing is a plate of eggs and bacon, she thought in longing. Her Father loved to cook that for her after a long absence from home, knowing it was her favorite breakfast dish.
A lump appeared in her throat as she thought of her family, the cornerstone of Lakota life. Would she ever see them again? She had no idea. First thing first, she had to find out where she was. She hadn’t heard a car all morning so far, which was quite odd.
She shook her head, applying herself to her meal.

The delightful scent of bacon and eggs filled her nose.

“Here ye go lass, more food for ye,” said Rupert, plunking himself across from her, and setting a plate by her porridge bowl.

“It looked like ye needed more food, you scarfed that down.”

“I do like food,” Alice replied, digging into the meal.

“Aye, that is what I like to hear, a lassie who isna afraid to enjoy the pleasures of life,” said Rupert, beginning to laugh. Alice couldn’t help but join in, his laugh was infectious.
Once th3e meal was ended, Dougal and the rest of the men went about their business. Dougal wouldn’t tell her of course, only barking at Rupert to mind her, and keep her out of trouble, as if she was a fucking child.
Sighing, she headed outside, Rupert walking beside her. Like her hero Crazy Horse, there were times in her life when she needed solitude to sort through her thoughts and troubles.

She shook her head at herself as Rupert brought her out of her thoughts with a canteen of water. She took a drink as they continued to walk.

“I’m sorry that I am keeping you from your business,’ she said to him.

“Dougal’s orders are to keep an eye on you,’ Rupert replied. “So, that is what Angus and I’ll do until he says otherwise.” Alice didn’t understand the reasoning of this idea, but she nodded, not wanting to press the issue.
She could hear another set of feet walking behind them, and assumed that it was Angus, her second guard.

“So, tell me lass, what is a Lakota?” Rupert asked. “You were talking about its last night when you were screaming at Dougal.”

“Lakota is one of the tribes of the Colonies,” Alice replied. She went on to tell him about the story of Buffalo Calf woman, along with the seven rights of the Lakota, and about the seven council fires.

“I am part of the Hunkpapa, who live in the black hills, our home and a sacred place to our people.”

“What is the language you were speaking in last night?” Rupert asked, leading her around a large rock. The sound of running water was in the distance.

“It is the Lakota language,” she replied.

“It is pretty,” said Rupert. “Do you have a Lakota name?”

“It is Akicita,” she replied. “It means warrior. My childhood name means dancing maiden.”

“Ye dinna look like ye can fight,” Angus scoffed from behind them.

“I was in a war,” Alice said sharply. “I do not like to speak of it, so do not ask me to.” She grimaced, remembering her own screaming as she was subjected to the cruciatous curse. She still got trimmers and pain in her muscles because of the curse.

“Akicita,” Rupert said slowly. “May I call you that name?” she nodded with a pleased smile. “Did I say it right?”

“Yes, you did,” she replied.

“You have too many names,” grunted Angus.

“Well, I didn’t ask for your opinion now did I?” Alice shot back, sending a glare behind her. Rupert laughed.

“Ye glared at a tree, try to yer right.” Alice did so while Angus snorted in annoyance.

The three of them spent most of the day at the river, waiting for the rest of the group to return. Angus expressed his annoyance at having to guard her. Rupert sighed.

“GO back to the cottage then,” he snapped, tired of his friends’ attitude.

“No, Dougal’s orders are to watch her, and that is what I’ll do,” Angus grumbled. Rupert shook his head. “I think we had best be heading back, Dougal and the others will be ready to leave soon.”

“Angus nodded.

The cottage was humming with activity when they got back. Alice was led towards the small table near the fire where food was waiting.
After sitting down, Rupert dished up a bowl of food and handed it to her.

“Beef stew, nice and hot,” he said. Alice took a careful bite. She was rather picky when it came to stew, her Dad made the best stew she ever had. He slow cooked it for a few hours with just the right amount of spices. The broth was perfectly seasoned while the meat was tender.

“It is pretty good,” she said.

“Aye, Mrs. Fitz is an excellent cook, I ken ye will like her, sense ye enjoy food,” said Rupert. She heard the scrape of a chair as he sat down across from her, Angus joining them a few seconds later.

“Is Mrs. Fitz at the place we are going to next?” asked Alice.

“Aye, she is the house keeper,” replied Rupert. “Here, have some bread.” He tossed her a large dinner roll, which she promptly began to tear into. The thing was heavenly, soft and dripping with melted butter.

“Sooo good,” she said, licking butter off her fingers. The door opened as she spoke. A grunt of pain was heard, along with a soothing voice and the scraping of a chair in the corner.

“Who is that?” Alice asked.

“Jamie,” said Rupert. “Which reminds me, we need to introduce ye to the rest of us, but that will have to wait for later. For now, we need to see what is wrong.” He and Angus got to their feet, and made their way to the corner.
The door opened again, bringing in the evening breeze. Rupert spoke in his language, and another man responded.
Alice blocked everything out as she concentrated on eating her cooling stew. She was brought back to earth by a sharp voice.

“Don’t you dare!” The voice was female and English. The conversation continued as the woman instructed the men on how to set a broken shoulder. Angus made a smart-ass comment as she asked him to part with his belt, but was quickly corrected by Dougal’s no-nonsense tone.
Jamie grunted once more as the woman began to work. Alice fingered the wand in her pocket, but knew that she wouldn’t be able to help. For one, the men would see that she was a witch, and she would be burned at the stake or hung. She also didn’t know any healing spells.
She felt weirdly out of place as she grabbed up her empty bowl.

“Um, where do I put this?” she asked awkwardly, knowing that the men were watching the woman’s skills as a nurse.

“Give it,” Dougal grunted, grabbing the bowl from her hands, and taking it to the next room. “Right, can you ride Jamie? We need to leave.”

“Aye, I can ride,” the young man replied.

“Good, you are riding with me,” he grunted, grabbing Alice’s arm and pulling her towards the door.

“You need to let her hold your arm,” said the woman from behind them. “That is how blind people prefer to be led.”

“Don’t tell me what to do woman,” he growled, yanking Alice through the door, causing her to stumble and bang her knee against the door.

“See, she got hurt,” the woman said angrily.

“I need my cane,” said Alice.

“I see it by the fireplace,” the woman said to her.

“I have it,” said Rupert, handing it to her. “I will hold yer broom for ye.” Alice nodded, wincing in pain as her knee throbbed. She knew there would be quite the bruise by morning.

“What’s your name?” Alice asked the woman.

“I am Claire,” she replied.

“I’m Alice.”

“Enough of this,” Dougal barked, grabbing her arm once more, ignoring her protests about her cane. “If you try anything funny, I will slit yer throat,” he said to Claire as he placed Alice on his horse and helped Claire.

They rode hard that night, the men talking quietly to themselves. It was a nice Spring evening with the wind sounding around them. Alice would have enjoyed it if she wasn’t so scared about where they were going. Once they couldn’t ride anymore, they stopped for a rest.

“Here Alice, let me look at that knee,” said Claire. “I am a nurse.” Claire pulled up her pants leg to take a look.

“How is it?” Alice asked.

“It is quite the bruise, the idiot had no right to hurt you like that, honestly. It is unfortunate we don’t have ice to bring down the swelling. Try and get some sleep if you can.”

“Right, we’re leaving,” Dougal barked. ‘I want to get to Leoch as quick as we can, red coats may be about.”

“Or not,” said Claire angrily, helping Alice onto Dougal’s horse.

“I want to ride with Rupert,” said Alice.

“Yer riding with me,” Dougal growled.

“For Christ’s sake, let her ride with him, what is the harm?” Claire snapped glaring at Dougal.

“She’ll be doing what I say,” Dougal snapped at her.
Alice was really wanting to take out her wand and curse him, possibly the jelly legs jinx. She smiled to herself at the thought as they rode. She eventually found herself drifting off, in spite of her desire to stay awake. She didn’t trust Dougal to leave her off somewhere to starve or get eaten by some animal.
She jerked awake at a rough hand, yanking her from the saddle.
She immediately tensed, thinking that death eaters were going to get her. She kicked and struggled, trying to get away.

“Stop yer struggling woman,” Dougal hissed.

“Don’t ever wake me like that again,’ Alice hissed, yanking herself away from him. She breathed deeply, relieved that there weren’t death eaters about, though she still knew that she was in danger. She hated not being able to use magic, she felt vulnerable without being able to rely on her wand for protection.
She stood, still as a statue and shaking like a leaf as screams and high cold laughter filled her head. A hand landed on her shoulder, the screams growing.

“Where did you get your wand Miss Cross?” the sugary sweet voice asked. She struggled against her restraints, needing to get out of the ministry, she had to protect her Father, they had to flee to American and to their tribe where they would be safe.

“Lass.”

“I will ask you once more, which witch or wizard did you steal that wand from?”

“Lass, stop yer struggling, your safe.”

“It’s my wand! I bought it when I turned eleven!” She screamed, jerking against the restraints that held her in the chair.

“Get the rope Rupert.” The voice was distant, sounding as if heard from the bottom of a whale.

“I will not!” No, they had to run, get away, they were in danger too. She tried to scream but her voice wouldn’t work.

“She might be possessed; I will call Father Bain.”

“You will not Dougal!” The voices were distant as the cold increased. A terrible bone chilling cold entered the room, along with the sound of cold rattling breath.

“Lass, yer safe.” The voice again, terrified. “It isna real.
A hand took hers, rough but gentle. The cold slowly began to ease, along with the screams.

“Aye, yer safe, nobody will harm ye.”

“It’s my wand,” she sobbed. “I bought it when I was eleven.”

“Aye, it’s yer wand,” a familiar voice repeated.

“It’s my… Ru-Rupert?” The cold room disappeared at the sound of the voice. She became aware of the sound of a crackling fire.

“Aye, it is Rupert,” he said. Clammy sweat was on her brow, and she continued to shake.

“Aye, I am here as well, Angus if ye remember,” said a second voice.
Slowly, her shaking began to stop.

“Did I say something?” she croaked.

“Aye, something about wands, and dementors and witches,” said Rupert. Alice gasped, fear coming back in full force. This was it. She was about to be arrested and charged.

“Are ye a witch?” Rupert asked. She sat in silence, too terrified to answer. “I grew up on stories of the fairies lass. I willna tell anyone, nor will Angus. Besides, if you are a witch, you could easily escape a burning by casting a spell.”
She could hear wariness in his tone. What option did she had? She couldn’t explain these things away. If she was burned, she could place a freeze flame charm on herself like Windalin the weird.

“Yes, I am a witch,” she whispered, taking her wand out of her pocket. “This is my wand.”

“Can ye show us some of yer magic then?” Rupert asked, still with that tone of disbelief, though, her parents and grandparents hadn’t believed it either.

“All right.” She flicked her wand, placing a silencing charm on the room, before she took off her shoe, and transformed it into a cute fluffy bunny rabbit.

“That is impressive, but why would you want to do that?” asked Rupert.

“I don’t know,” Alice said with a shrug. “Maybe I might get lonely one day and want a pet rabbit.”

“Aye, but can ye do anything useful?” Angus asked.

“Yes, I can, what do you want to see?”

“Can ye start a fire?” Rupert asked. “This one is about done.”
Alice pointed her wand at the fireplace, and soon a warm fire was roaring, filling the room with warmth.

“Can ye fill my flask with more whiskey?” Angus asked. Alice rolled her eyes. Angus gave a yelp of surprise as she caused it to zoom into her hand. She soon had it full to the brim with his drink. He too, it from her and took a long drink.

“You said you were in a war,” said Rupert. “Can you fight with magic?”

“Yes,” Alice replied. “I am quite good at defense, defense against the dark arts was one of my best subjects in school.”

“You mean you can’t just wave a wand?” Angus asked.

“No, magic takes concentration, you have to go to school to learn how to control it, and do it properly. Some spells are quite difficult to master, especially defense spells, you have to know the theory and everything.”

“Can anyone hear us?” Rupert asked.

“No, I placed a silencing charm on the room.”

“Can ye show us some of these defense charms?” Rupert asked, sounding rather interested.

“All right,” Alice replied. “I can show you a couple, and then I need to get some sleep, it was a long ride.”

“Aye, us as well. What do you want to show us first?” Angus asked.

“I am going to show you the shield charm. Angus, I want you to com at Rupert like you’re going to attack him.”

“Aye.” With a battle cry, Angus flew at Rupert.

“Protago!” Alice yelled, pointing her wand at them.

“I canna get to him,” said Angus in wonder.

“I don’t know if I want to use this next one on you,” said Alice.

“Why not?” asked Rupert.

“It knocks you out,” said Alice.

“Is there a spell to wake us up?” asked Rupert.

“Yes but—”

‘I want to see it,” Rupert interrupted. “It is a dangerous time that we live in, and I will feel better knowing that you can defend yerself when we are not here. Do it on me.” His voice was more serious this time instead of his usual light and playful tone.

“You’re a brave man Rupert,” said Alice. She placed a cushioning charm on the walls and floor, and got up to face Rupert.

“Stupify,” she said. There was a soft thud as Rupert fell on the cushioned ground.

“Aye, ye knocked him out cold,” said Angus in disbelief. “Please wake him up now.” Alice flicked her wand.

“Well lass, I’m impressed,” said Rupert. “I am sure there is more things, and I hope to see more. This is a lot to take in.”

“I can imagine,” said Alice.” She flicked her wand at the door, removing the silencing charm.

“Good night to ye lass,” said Rupert. “Try and sleep now, I expect that the Laird will wish to see ye and ask ye some questions.” She seriously doubted she could sleep after hearing that.
She climbed onto the bed, casting a cushioning charm on the lumpy mattress before laying down, quickly falling asleep, wand clutched in her hand.

Rupert stared at the closed door of Akicita’s bed chamber. A witch. He could hardly believe what he had seen and experienced. It was clear to him that Father Bain had magic all wrong. This made him think of other things about witches he had heard, like the fact they couldn’t bleed, so examiners used the pricker to test if they were witches or not. He snorted. That was obviously a way for them to cheat and prove to themselves that the victim was a witch.
The most ridiculous one was that witches couldn’t drown, and the sight of a rosary would burn the magic out of them. Just superstitious nonsense brought on by fear and hysteria, and entertainment of course, what better way for the citizens of a town to see some blood shed on a Saturday night, enjoyment for the whole family.
What else was a lie?

“Well,” said Angus, leading the way down the corridor. “That was unexpected.” It was unexpected, and dangerous. Not that she was dangerous to them, but the public would be dangerous if they got the slightest hint of a witch in Castle Leoch.
She would have to be careful with her magic, but he suspected that she knew this rather well. This didn’t stop him from wanting to learn more of what she could do, what her limits were. They would have to find places where she could do her magic without prying eyes watching. Her chamber was one safe place, as long as they looked out for Mrs. Fitz and other chamber maids. They would need to find more.
He was most interested in her defense spells, he wanted to see more of those, see how well she could fight. Of course, she would do quite well against a non-magical person, she could simply disarm a redcoat if she needed to, perhaps she could turn one into an ugly slug. Rupert grinned at the thought of a redcoat oozing on the ground like the dirty hearted man he was.

“Should we tell Dougal?” Angus continued when the silence stretched for a minute or more.

“I think we should leave that to her Angus, she is the one with the magic powers Afterall.” Angus looed reluctant, knowing they were ordered to tell Dougal any information about her, but he nodded to Rupert’s relief.

“Let’s get an ale,’{ he said, leading the way towards the kitchens.

Alice jerked awake as the door slammed open.

“You must wake up and get yerself ready to see himself.” It was a woman’s voice, urgent and rather too loud. Alice let out a startled yell, wand moving, ready to let loose a spell, then memory slammed into being. She was surrounded by muggles, she must not dare use magic, unless her life was in danger. Heart pounding in panic, she jumped to her feet, tripping over the blanket that somehow made its way onto the floor.
She righted herself, getting her breath under control.

“I’m sorry lass, but ye need to get ready.” Alice only nodded, too tired and overwhelmed to ask for her name. She stood stiffly, allowing the woman to dress her in whatever she wanted.

“You may call me Mrs. Fitz,” she said gently. “I don’t know if you remember me in the court yard, something upset you, and you started acting strange, Dougal, Angus, and Rupert got you up here, screaming and kicking all the while, so I thought I would re-introduce myself.” Alice nodded as Mrs. Fitz brushed her hair. “Rupert also informed me that you canna see.”
Alice waited for the pity she had gotten so often from strangers, but it didn’t come.

“If there is anything you need help with around the castle, please don’t hesitate to call on me.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Fitz,” said Alice. “Rupert and Angus have been nice to me so far. Well, more Rupert,” she amended. ‘I’m not sure about Angus quite yet. I don’t trust people easily.”

“Never mind that for now,” said Mrs. Fitz. “Ye will have time to get to know everyone better once the Laird judges ye. Colum is a good and fare man, but ye must tell him the Lord’s truth ye ken.” Yeah, like that would happen, Alice thought. Like she was going to tell him that she was a witch or that she fell through time without a time turner.

“I’ll do that,” she simply said as Mrs. Fitz finished braiding her hair.

“Aye, now yer ready.” Alice flinched at the knock, hand going to her wand, body tense and ready. She grimaced at herself, she had never been this jumpy sense the end of the war, though her Dad often reminded her that trauma never really went away, her Grandfather had told her of his experiences during world war two, and the fact that he was still troubled by it.

“Lassie, it is I, Rupert.” Alice was relieved at the sound of the voice. She relaxed her grip, opening the door. “Are ye ready? I am here to escort ye to the Laird.”

“Good luck lass,’ said Mrs. Fitz. “I will be in the kitchens if ye need anything, dinna hesitate if ye need something from the kitchens.” Alice nodded, walking from the room with Rupert.

They walked together in silence, their footsteps the only sound in the echoing corridor. Rupert placed his arm around her when she started to shiver.

“Are ye cold?” he asked.

“Yeah, I am. I don’t know why; it’s supposed to be Spring.”

“Aye, it is, but a draft will sometimes come in, and these walls are made of stone. Which reminds me, I will request for Mrs. Fitz to find ye a room with a window if you wish,” said Rupert.

“I would like that,” said Alice. “I don’t like feeling like I am in a tomb.” Alice slipped her hand into Rupert’s larger one. It was warm, feeling just right somehow in her own. She shrugged off the strange warm feeling blossoming in her chest as they walked, something to think about later.
They walked down several corridors and flights of stairs before they reached the Laird’s chambers.

“Constant vigilance,” she muttered.

“What was that?’ Rupert asked, taking her back down stairs and into a private alcove.

“Oh, something a good friend of mine always said, his name was Alastor Moody, everybody called him Mad-eye because of the magical eye he had. The war made him paranoid. He was in my opinion the best auror the ministry ever had.”

“Auror?’ Rupert asked.

“Dark wizard catchers,’ Alice replied. “People thought I would be an auror, but I prefer journalism instead.” Tears filled her eyes, spilling down her face. She tried to blink them away, but it was no use. “I thought I would be over his death by now, it’s been sixteen years sense the war.”

“Hey now, you should never be ashamed of missing yer friend.” They were whispering, afraid to be overheard by the Laird’s attendance. “Do they allow women to be journalists in the wizarding community? How about yer dark wizard catchers?”

“Yes, witches are able to do the same jobs as wizards,” Alice replied.

“Aye, we will talk about this after yer meeting,” said Rupert. “Ye canna be late to see the Laird, it displeases him when people are late. I should ken, Dougal is late all the time, I believe he does this on purpose.”

“I see,” said Alice, trying to fight back her nervousness.

“Best of luck to ye,’ said Rupert, leading her towards the door. “Keep yer head and stay calm.” Rupert watched as the door opened to reveal Mistress Claire.

“Oh,” she said in surprise. “Alice, Rupert MacKenzie, what are you doing out here?”

“It is her turn to speak with the Laird.” Claire nodded.

“Just stay calm, and stick to what you need to tell him, it will be fine.” Alice nodded once more and entered the study, closing the door behind her, leaving Rupert and Claire in the hall.
They stood in silence, regarding each other with miss trust as they listened to the murmur of voices, not being able to catch the words. Rupert wanted to step closer, but didn’t want Colum’s attendance to find him listening in.

“What are you still doing here?” Claire asked. “Don’t you want to go to the kitchens to have a drink?”

“I was ordered by Dougal to keep an eye on Mistress Alice and yerself.” Claire glared at him, eyes flashing.

“I am not an English spy,” she said loudly. Rupert grabbed her arm and pulled her to a more private corner near the stairs.

“SHH, not so loud,” he hissed. “It is up to Dougal to find out if yer a spy or no, my job is to follow orders. At least ye have me at the moment and not Angus, he is in his ci[s more than out of them.” Rupert could tell that Mistress Claire was going to give Dougal a piece of her mind. He shook his head. Between her and Akicita, Dougal wasn’t going to have a good night’s sleep anytime soon.

“What are ye still doing here?’ Rupert asked Claire.

“I thought I would walk Alice back.”

“I am going to walk her back,” Rupert replied.

“I am,” Claire replied. “You are welcome to join us sense you are so determined to spy on us.”

“Fine,” said Rupert.

“Fine,” said Claire.

“Fine.”

“Fine.” They glared at one another, and spent the next minute in a huffy silence. Rupert couldn’t help but send concerned glances at the closed door of Colum’s study as the meeting went on. It had only been about five minutes, but he wanted it to be done.

“Your concerned about her, do you like her?” asked Claire.

“I am merely concerned for a lost Lady,” replied Rupert.

“Don’t be daft,” hissed Claire. “I can see it in your face. You do like her.”

“What if I do? What are ye going to do about it?” he challenged, glaring at her.

“Nothing,” said Claire. “Just a simple observation. I remember you checking on her during our ride here, constantly checking to make sure she was well. I won’t tell the bloody castle if that is what you are worried about, I am glad you like her, it means you’re not a heartless bastard after all.” Despite himself, Rupert’s lips twitched. Despite her foul mouth, the woman seemed kind, but that wasn’t saying much, many English people had been kind, but had stabbed Lairds in the backs, he would have to wait and see if she would repeat the pattern.

Alice appeared around the corner with the Laird guiding her down the stairs.

“Rupert, Mistress Beauchamp,” he greeted. “I hope ye will join us in the hall for supper.”

“Aye, we shall do so,” Rupert replied, giving Akicita a once over.

“I will see you then, at eight,” said the Laird, heading back to his chambers.

“I think I will go for a walk,” said Alice.

“I need an ale,” Rupert replied. “I dinna think that Dougal shall mind, I will see ye at supper.” Rupert watched as the two women made their way down the corridor.

‘If you are going for a walk, I think we need to get your cane,” Claire whispered. Alice nodded in agreement. They managed to find her room without much trouble.

“Do you want me to come with you?” Claire asked. “Just to be sure, there aren’t any railings on these blasted stairs, how utterly stupid if you ask me, a bloody hazard if you ask me, though what do you expect in a bloody castle.”

“That will be helpful, I am going to take a walk in the grounds. You can at least take me to the doors if you want to.”

“All right then,” said Claire. I am definably back in time, Alice thought as they went down the corridor. There was no avoiding it now, the fact that there hadn’t been cars once sense she got here, and the fact she was in Scotland. The stones were not a portkey at all, there wasn’t the jerk behind the navel, and time turners only took you back a certain time. This had to be ancient magic, magic as old as the earth.
She fingered her wand in the sleeve of her dress, no pockets to be found on the thing.

‘What year is it?” Alice asked Claire. “I woke up the other day thinking it was 1742.”

“I do that sometimes,” said Claire. “It is 1743.” Alice nearly choked on her spit in surprise. Well I’ll be damned, she thought, not even the American Revolution. It had been a lame excuse to her own ears, but she didn’t know how else to explain her lack of knowledge on what the year was. Alice chuckled at what Claire said as she was helped down the stairs. She didn’t feel as confidant with the stairs without a railing to hang onto. The cane helped, but it was much safer to have the railing to hold onto. She nearly stumbled a couple of times, but Claire helped her before she went down the stairs.

“I’ll talk to Colum about getting you a room on the ground floor if you want,” said Claire. “I don’t’ like the thought of you walking these stairs without a rail. Not that I’m trying to coddle you, don’t get me wrong,” she added, afraid of hurting her feelings.

“No, I would like that actually, one with windows if that is available,” said Alice. She could hear voices issuing from the courtyard and smell fresh air. She smiled, ready to be outdoors.

“All right, this is where I leave you,” said Claire, helping her down the steps. “It is all clear, you won’t run into anything.
She heard the sound of children laughing and playing and decided to investigate. She hurried towards the yells and wood smacking against wood.

“I do hope yer feeling better lass,” said a low voice from behind her. She jumped, whirling to face the speaker.

“Dougal McKenzie, you startled me, but yes, I am better, bad memories is all.” She decided to let his rough treatment go for now, as long as he was decent to her, she would return the favor. She was not one for holding grudges, though she was still miffed at him for breaking her flute.
He was about to speak when he spotted the boys playing, and then proceeded to have a match with a boy named Hamish. Alice laughed with them as she listened to the cracks of wood as they volleyed back and forth.
Alice couldn’t help but smile at the softer side that Dougal was showing, a much different contrast to the hard man on the road. She could hear the boy’s laughter as he was swung through the air.
She heard Dougal set him down before shoeing him away.

‘It is almost time for supper lad, you had best get ready and looking presentable, or yer Mother will have yer hide.” Hamish grumbled a bit, but did as he was told.

“I thought that dinner was an hour away,” said Alice.

“Aye, it is,” said Dougal. “The lad needs to look presentable and get cleaned up.” Alice nodded. “Where are Angus and Rupert?” he asked.

“Rupert went to get an ale, while I don’t know where Angus is,” Alice replied. Dougal sighed and muttered something in Gaelic.

“Aye, I shall have to speak to them later then,” he added, switching to English.

Thirty minutes later, Dougal and Alice went inside, talking together as they went.

“You know that I know that you are using Angus and Rupert to spy on me,” she said.

“Aye, and what are ye accusing me of?” Dougal asked, and edge to his tone.

“Well, nothing,” replied Alice. “I can understand the need for it, I’m a stranger Afterall, and from what I have observed, your people are living through a dangerous time, so, it would be rather stupid of you to not spy on who in your view are suspicious people who just happened to show up in the woods randomly and without explanation. I would do the same to you if the roles were reversed. I could tell you that I am not a spy or suspicious person until I am blue in the face, but it wouldn’t make a difference until I proved otherwise.
I may not like it much, but I understand the need and reasoning.” They were silent for a bit until she spoke once more.

“There are secrets about me, but I need to know that I can trust you before I reveal them. I will tell you someday, but not at the moment. Will that do for you? Can we try and get along with one another and gain trust between us?” Alice was still displeased at Dougal’s rough treatment, but she could understand his hard nature. War did things to people overtime, made changes that would last a lifetime, Alaster Moody was an excellent example of that. She herself wasn’t that sweet innocent little girl she had once been herself, her temper was much quicker, and her trust slower to gain. “Can we start over?” She held out her hand for him to take. “My name is Alice Cross.”
She was slightly surprised when Dougal took her hand and kissed it. She giggled as his beard tickled her fingers.

“Dougal MacKenzie,” he replied. “I am sorry for breaking yer flute and losing my temper with you.” Alice chuckled.

“Well, it isn’t like I didn’t lose my own when we met, but I will accept your apology, I think we were both under strain that night and the following days on the road.” They walked on in a friendly silence towards the dining hall. Alice could hear the clink of dishes and people talking. Early arrivals, she thought, probably wanted to get some food before it all disappeared.
Silence fell as they entered, not a sound was to be heard. Alice stiffened at this, not wanting to be the center of attention. Dougal lead her to a seat, which he held out for her.
Once she was seated, he sat down to her left. He informed her that Claire was soon entering the hall. Alice realized that she was getting the same attention. There was a scraping of wood as Dougal pulled out a chair for her.
The laird soon introduced Alice and Claire to his wife Letitia.
The meal soon got under way; Claire being questioned by Colum. Alice had refused alcohol, not being fond of it.

“Ye dinna like wine?” Dougal asked.

“No,” she replied.

“Whiskey?” Dougal asked, sounding horrified.

“No.”

“Rum?”

“No.”

“Brandy?”

“No.” Alice was growing more amused. She was curious about how much he knew about alcohol.

“Beer?”

‘No.”

“Ale?”

“No.”

“Mead?”

“No.”

“Gen?”

“no.”

“Vodka?” Claire joined in.

“Never had it,” Alice replied. Dougal snorted.

“Then ye canna say ye dinna like alcohol, sense ye claim ta have nae tried it,” said Dougal. Alice rolled her eyes.

“Will ye shut yer gobs?” Colum hissed, clearly having enough of the pointless conversation. Alice wanted to tell him to suck it, but she doubted he would get the reference, and she was in a century where women were supposed to act like perfect ladies, pure as the fucking snow. Alice snorted at the thought as she applied herself to her food.
She took a sip of milk that a servant placed in front of her. It wasn’t as cold as she liked, but it would do, it was a drink at any rate.
The meal continued without incident. Alice gobbled down her food, while Claire gobbled down more alcohol while being questioned by Colum.
Footsteps hurried across the hall towards their table.

“Hello, my name is Claire,” said Claire.

“GO on and tell her yer name,” Letitia chided.

“I am Hamish.”

“It is nice to meet you Hamish, I saw you and your Father playing together in the courtyard.” She sounded quite drunk to Alice, her words slurring together.

“My Father?” the boy asked, clearly confused.

“Well yes, do you not remember Dougal? You were swinging him around.” A long silence followed this, one which non-verbal communication seemed to take place. Alice simply continued to eat her third helping of food, eager for dessert.

“I apologize,” said Claire. “It appears made an error of judgement.”

‘I am the son and heir of Colum Mackenzie,” said Hamish.

“Aye, ye are,” Letitia growled, patting the seat beside her. Claire fell silent for a minute.

“I think I will turn in for the night,” she said, getting up rather noisily. “These last few days have been rather tiring for me.”

“A good night to you then,” said Colum.

“Do you want to come Alice?” she asked.

“No, still eating,” Alice said. Claire placed a hand on her shoulder.

“How is your knee?”

“It seems to be feeling better,” Alice replied.

“I will take a look at it in the morning,” said Claire. Alice nodded as Claire walked away.

Dessert soon appeared; delicious smelling treats that made Alice nearly drool. Hobbits were her favorite Tolkien creatures for their love of food and plants. They were the definition of Hufflepuffs.

“oooh, give me give me give me,” said Alice, nearly jumping up and down in her seat in excitement.

‘By Christ woman,” said Dougal. She could detect a slight note of amusement in his tone. “Eat this and shut it.” Alice smelled cherry and cinnamon. She took a bite of the cake and grinned as pure heaven filled her mouth. It was perfectly moist and rich with flavor. Gordan Ramsey would be damn proud, she thought to herself as she attacked the cake.

“Ye look like yer in love with that cake.” She turned towards the amused voice behind her. It was Rupert.

“I want to marry this cake,” said Alice dreamily. Colum merely gave a long-suffering sigh as Hamish laughed.

“I would sale my soul for a cup of coffee,” said Alice.

“I am afraid there isna any,” said Rupert.

“Oh well,” said Alice.

“Very unladylike,” muttered Letitia. Alice scoffed to herself. She didn’t care what other people thought of her.

“Hey Rupert,” said Alice. “Do you want to know why I have a broom?” The meal had ended and the two of them were walking back to her chambers. Angus stayed behind to have a couple of drinks.

“Aye, why do ye have a broom with ye?”

“For flying,” she replied with a grin. Rupert stared at her in amazement.

“Can we fly without being seen?”

“Yeah, if we are careful. I will have to dissolution you.”

“What will that do?”

“It will make it harder for you to be seen, like a human camelian,” Alice explained.

“Well, can we go flying?” Rupert asked.

“It will have to be somewhere where we won’t be seen by muggles, perhaps after everyone is in bed maybe.”

“Aye, that will work, and I ken a place in the forest that is safe.”

“Well, do you want to fly then?” she asked. “This is a top model racing broom, my friend Harry bought it for me as a birthday gift last year. His wife Ginny recommended it to him, they placed some spells on it that would help me fly.”

“I was wondering how ye could fly sense ye canna see,” said Rupert.

“It is charmed to correct my course if I am close to another flyer, or other objects. I can also give an address to my broom and it can take me to wherever I need to go, my other friends Ron and Hermione worked on that spell with one of my old Professors.”

“Aye, let us fly then.”

“Come here,” she said. Rupert stepped in front of her, and she wrapped him sharply on the top of his head. It felt as though an egg had been poured over his hair, cold trickles were running down his body from where she struck.
He gaped down at his body. It was the exact texture of the corridor, he blended in so well, that he couldn’t even tell.

‘Amazing, I canna recognize myself,” he said. They walked to her room where she grabbed her broom.
He hadn’t noticed it before, but small writing was in the wood. Firebolt 2003. Rupert led her outside, and deep into the forest where they wouldn’t be seen.
He watched as she placed her right leg over the broom, stratling it.
He quickly followed suet, sitting behind her.
She kicked off hard from the ground and they soared up into the sky, the ground quickly shrinking away. It was the most wonderful feeling he had ever experienced. They flew higher and higher, Rupert telling her where to fly so they couldn’t be seen. They were so high that the buildings began to look like tiny toy houses in a tiny toy village. He could see everything for miles.

‘Can ye go faster/” he asked.

“Sure, I just wanted you to get used to it is all.” Grinning, she sped up, and they were zooming past trees, and deeper into the forest. They were soon weaving and diving in complex spirals. Rupert was really enjoying himself, laughing as the wend roared in his ears and flew through his hair.
This was surely freedom, far better than riding on a damn horse. They rose higher and higher, circling until they landed in a high tree. Rupert whistled in appreciation. He could see the world below him like a big sprawling map. None of Colum’s guards would be able to spot them up here.

“Do you think that Dougal or Angus would enjoy this?” Alice asked.

“Dougal would, but I am very sure that Angus would hate it.” They stayed up in the tree for a bit longer until it began to get cold.

“I think we should head back now,” said Rupert in disappointment. Travel would not be the same for him now that he knew the wonders of the broomstick.

“All right,” said Alice. They flew from the tree, hovering in mid-air, not quite ready to leave just yet.

“Can we try that address feature of yer broom?” Rupert asked.

“Sure,” said Alice. She took out her wand, tapping the broom once.

“What is your destination?” a friendly male voice asked.

“Castle Leoch,” said Alice.

“In rout for Castle Leoch, 10 miles,” said the male voice as they began to fly.

“I am surprised the castle is in the database,” said Alice. “Hermione wasn’t kidding when she told me that they programmed every place they could think of.”

“Whose voice is that?” Rupert asked.

“It is Ron’s,” Alice replied. “He spent hours programing his voice to work on the thing, he had to say all sorts of words and phrases for the broom to learn.”

“That is amazing,” said Rupert. “You have wonderful friends.”

“Yeah, Ron and Hermione Weasley, along with Harry and Ginny Potter are all wonderful people,” Alice replied as they turned right, avoiding a tree.

“Muggle approaching,” said the broom as the broom rocketed up towards the clouds.

“Blimey, that was a close one,” said Ron’s voice from the broom. Rupert was amazed. The voice was speaking directly in their ears, Colum’s guards didn’t seem to have heard a word.

“He is gone,” Rupert whispered. The broom seemed to agree, for it resumed flight, diving towards the ground as they raced towards the castle. They were still quite high, the castle looked so small from up here, Rupert thought.

“Approaching Castle Leoch, starting the decent.” The broom dived downward, causing them to land safely near the gate.

“You are at your stop. Have a good evening, and happy flying,” said Ron’s voice. “Now, if you will excuse me, Hermione has a sandwich for me.” Rupert laughed quietly as they dismounted.

“Ron liked to put fun phrases in like that, in order to add some humor,” said Alice as they walked towards the castle.

“Can we do that again?” Rupert asked.

‘Yeah, we sure can,” Alice replied. “We have other, less fun travel methods, but they are excellent for if you are in a hurry or a tight spot. I will explain those later on.”

They walked back to her chamber in silence, enjoying the quiet of the castle. It would be quite late by now, and Angus would be wondering where he had got to. Rupert smiled as he wished her goodnight, before heading to his own bed.
He quickly changed into his night clothing and fell into bed, where he fell asleep, dreaming of flying through the clouds once more. Colum must not know, he thought as he drifted off.